Lately there were a lot of news and speculations that more and more 3D HDTV manufacturers are going to be releasing passive 3D products, even top names like Sony and Panasonic that were solely focused on active 3D solutions are apparently going to be making passive 3D HDTVs. But is passive 3D technology better than active and what is the reason it is getting more and more interest from the companies making 3D HDTVs? Well, the major advantage is that products based on passive 3D technology are cheaper and easier to produce, and you can get dozens of passive 3D glasses at the price of a single pair of active 3D ones. Does that make passive 3D better – no, it does not, but for more price conscious customers these solutions are considered more attractive. Of course there is the fact that passive 3D glasses are easier to adjust and less people are having issues wearing them as opposed to active shutter glasses, but then again there are disadvantages in the passive 3D technology as well, one of the major ones being the reduced in two vertical resolution when in 2D mode.
LG Electronics is probably going to be the big winner of all this increase in interest in passive 3D technology as it is one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers supporting passive 3D technology, but the company is already looking beyond passive 3D – into autosterescopic 3D solutions. The other big Korean brand – Samsung is still one of the largest active 3D HDTV supporter and although they also had interest into passive 3D technology they have apparently abandoned what they were working on in terms of next generation of passive 3D technology. Up until a few months ago the company was in partnership with RealD in order to develop a passive 3D solution with true Full HD resolution in 3D mode as well, but apparently the work on that has been suspended until RealD finds another partner.
Now, setting aside the use of 3D HDTVs for watching 3D movies, if you consider the use of the larger screen TV sets for stereoscopic 3D gaming, the passive 3D technology is not at a significant disadvantage. The reason for that lies in the limitation of the HDMI 1.4(a) stereo specifications that currently pretty much limit you to 1080p 24Hz 3D mode and that is good for movies, but for games you would need to play in the 720p 50/60Hz 3D mode. On passive 3D HDTVs however you are able to bypass the HDMI 1.4 frame packaging if your middle-ware software for providing stereo 3D output supports Row Interleaved output and thus get 1080p 60Hz with half vertical resolution in stereo 3D mode. And there are actually quite a lot of people that prefer to get passive 3D for gaming due to this limitation of the HDMI 1.4 interface specifics than to go for an active solution and be limited in playing at 720p resolution. This of course is true if you are going for a 3D HDTV with the main purpose to use it for gaming in stereo 3D mode, but most people still by 3D-capable television sets for watching TV or Movies on them, not to play games in 3D. And while the same thing about the resolution of the passive 3D technology applies to 3D monitors, the active 3D monitors on the other hand support full 1080p resolution with wither 120Hz refresh rate in 2D mode or with up to 60Hz in 3D mode per eye (if the monitor is equipped with DL-DVI or DisplayPort interface). So for stereoscopic 3D gamers active 3D monitors are still the proffered solution and more and more traditional gamers are also switching to these 3D-capable active monitors in order to be able to use them to play games in 2D mode with the 120Hz refresh rate.